By Abuchi Onwumelu
Following the continued Igweship tussle in Umuoji ancient kingdom where two illustrious sons are laying claim to the traditional stool of the town, concerned indigenes of the community have prevailed on Governor Willie Obiano’s administration to allow the town to exhaust the processes provided by the constitution of the town before issuing a certificate to any of contestants, even as they acknowledged that Chief Sir Kanayo Okoye won the Saturday, 8 May 2021 election.
They contended that it behoved the Central Executive Council (CEC) to ratify the selection of Igwe and subsequently present to Ndi Umuoji their next traditional ruler, even as they described the issuance of certificate to any of the contestants without CEC/Special Assembly ratification as a recipe for disaster.
They submitted that failure to allow the CEC which is regarded as the highest decision making body in Umuoji to carry out the task assigned to them by the constitution would distort the peace and progress of the community, as well as pit brothers against brothers. They argued that such denial would cause a break down of law and order in the community.
The concerned indigenes had recently at Government House, Awka, through a peaceful protest, demanded that Chief Sir Kanayo Okoye of Umuechem Village, who scored the highest number of votes in the May 8 2021 election organized by Umuoji Improvement Union Nigeria (UIUN) and supervised by the Anambra State Government, be declared as the authentic winner of the election and also be recognized as the new traditional ruler of Umuoji Community in Idemili North Council Area of Anambra State.
The peaceful protesters who were from the twenty-three villages that make up Umuoji, accompanied by community leaders, village heads and members of the Igwe-In-Council, demanded for the issuance of a certificate of recognition to Chief Kanayo Okoye who scored the highest number of votes during the Igweship election organized by the state government for the town on eighth May 2021.
During the exercise, the protesters were seen with placards with inscriptions like; “Igwe Umuoji is not for sale”, ”Umuoji wants Chief Kanayo Okoye”, ”Umuoji demands Kanayo as the Traditional Ruler”, among others.
Chief Tochukwu Mmodu who spoke on behalf of others, said that during the May eighth election in the community, the majority of Umuoji people voted for Chief Kanayo Okoye, which, he said, made him to win the election.
He expressed displeasure with the shape the event had taken, noting that few individuals were trying hard to create unnecessary tension in the community by organizing what he described as a shambolic and kangaroo jamboree in the name of run-off election on June 8 2021.
Chief Mmodu who described the action as unacceptable by the people of Umuoji, appealed for immediate intervention of the Anambra State Government on the matter.
Contributing, the former President General of Umuoji, Chief Gab Mbanefo, and another stakeholder in the town, Chief Ifeanyi Efobi, said that Umuoji traditional stool was not for sale, and described the imposition of traditional rulers on communities as a taboo in Igbo land, pointing out that Umuoji was too big to be so treated.
While receiving the peaceful protesters at Government House, Awka, Gov Obiano called on various communities across the state to make communal living and peaceful coexistence their watchword.
The governor who spoke through the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, promised to look into their matter.